Friday, October 31, 2008

Prodigal Son

Tomorrow would be Robbie Keane's destiny as he returns to White Hart Lane for the first time since he signed for Liverpool in close season. Expect a jeers or two from the faithfuls.

He scored plenty of goals for them and was a team member that famously beaten Chelsea in last season's Carling Cup final. He was loved, calming influence he is but he had to leave Spurs for a taste of Champions League, big boys playing ground. Spurs won't get him there.

So he left and had scored 2 goals thus far in Champions League. A tinge of regret? Do not think so.
He has yet to score in EPL and what better place to open your account at the Lane. They will never forgive him though.

A happy return for a prodigal son?

Mister Rotato

The season is 38 game long and we had just breached the quarter mark.

It is imperative that the squad is rotated regularly to endure the marathon. Jose did it, Sir Alex also did it to perfection.
Last season, at times SAF made as much as 5 changes to his team for midweek matches or after European exertion. Results? A double joy, EPL and Champions League medal safely tucked away in his safe deposit box, I presume.

The level of play understandably will tone down as these squad players hardly play together.
This was evidenced in Pompey game the other day as Rafa rested 4 regulars after high octane Chelsea's win. Sluggish and yet the Reds still registered a win. Rafa was vindicated. Marvelous.

I'm with you for this one, Senor.

Mister Rotato anyone?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

An Older Dirty Harry

A scene at the Lane?

Hassan Wenger must be mad. 2 goals to the good, 4 minutes into injury time and Arsenal let Spurs clawed back to snatch an unlikeliest 4-4 draw. Harry too added a few more grey hairs to his already less than black mane.

Spurs on the ascendancy? Maybe, if that's a yes, that sounds trouble for Liverpool this Saturday.

I was spot on not expecting flurry of goals yesterday. So there were plenty of squad players trying to woo the Boss. Although some slick moves still visible in the early part, the final pass was disappointing. Babel and Pennant were guilty of lost possession times and again. Babel, I still think is better as an impact player.

Bottom line, we still won. 1-0 is still a win, like Chelsea of old.

Be wary though, Spurs got their spur it seems with an older Harry at the helm.

Cause for concern? Nah...still think Liverpool are too good to be denied victory like Arsenal.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Dirty Harry

His son once captained Liverpool in the 90's during the Spice Boys period. Jamie (pic) later joined Spurs where today his dad is managing the boys in white.

How ironic that in the space of 4 days we are intertwined with Harry? Today the Reds will face Pompey, Harry's former club and on Saturday we'll march to the Lane to cross sword with his current club Tottenham Hotspur. By design? Maybe.

Torres not playing again today. No live telecast. Boring.
Good sign that Nando not playing? Maybe. Dunno. We beat MU and Chelsea without him, didn't we?

The lads look settled. We'll miss Nando for sure, not his goals though as on current form K&K can depended upon to weigh in a goal or two.

Pompey will miss a father figure in Harry, lost the plot and surrender meekly to the table topper. Don't expect avalanche of goals. A tight 2-0 to Liverpool, enough to enjoy life at the top.

A title charge? If not now, when?........

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Red Faced Blues Part 3

The bubble had burst. 4 years and 8 months and it all broken by a deflected shot. Massive.
It's not statement of intent anymore. It is real. We are in with a shout for that elusive title.
There were so many positives tonight. Need not elaborate much. Masterful.

A perfect 90 minutes ever by Liverpool by million miles. Funny thing is we won against the other big 3 without Torres. Fernando's fault maybe?

9 games in and we are at the top. Pompey next to feel the full brunt of the Reds might.

In the end, it was Red-faced Blues.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

LG-Life is Good

Sorry bro, this one is mine.

One fact remains- the LG (Lamps and Stevie) partnership just does not work for England. Both are vital cog for their clubs but whenever paired together they just failed to click.

That brings us to Battle at the Bridge. Sunday 9.30 p.m. Massive. Top of the table clash. Who'll be on top of who?

This one will be tight.It's a done deal that Rafa will play 4-5-1, play not to lose. What's interesting is both teams will play a similar set up with one holding midfielder, Masch and Mikel respectively.

The key will be stopping marauding fullbacks in Ashley Cole and Jose Bosingwa. The latter, I think is the best buy of the season. Countless goals have been scored from his powerful runs on the right. Cole is not that dangerous, Arbeloa is no push cart either. It's Bosingwa that matters. Think Riera will cope just fine while launching few runs of his own.

Centrally, it'll be Lamps & Deco against Stevie and Alonso. Not much room to manoeuvre.

Who'll shine on that day will determine the winner. Hopefully, it's the Reds.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Red Faced Blues Part 2

Didn't write much about Tico game the other day.

Sure, it was disappointing to let Tico escape the jaws of defeat so late in the game but it was not important enough to dwell on. Even Rafa had trained his sight on the Battle of the Bridge.
The qualification from CL is almost sure with 2 home games coming up. A draw at the Calderon is good enough considering a flurry of substitutions made and a negative tactics employed by Senor Goatee. Downside was the inability to convert chances that were created.
Suffice to mention that we did miss Torres and fringe players will remain as that. They're not good enough.

Back to Chelsea game. This top of the table clash is the one that matters.

Last season we met Chelsea 5 times. 2 in BPL, 2 in CL and the odd one in Carling Cup.
Not a single win. Zilch, zero. Close but not close enough.

How about this Sunday's game?

Man for man, Chelsea is better. They have a better squad. Their fringe players showed up when needed unlike many in our camp. They have not lost at the Bridge in all competition for more than 4 years. Well, records are meant to be broken. Every dog has its day, so they say.

Statistics will suggest that Liverpool will start as an underdog. Think that will suit us just fine.
Rafa will play not to lose I'm sure. Torres will again be missed up front so it'll be K & K to the fore with Kuyt on the right.

Upset the form book then Liverpool will be regarded as genuine title contenders.
Will it be a Red faced Blues or is it Red turned Blue after Sunday? Hope it's the former for heaven sake.

So Mr. Gerrard and Co, prove them wrong please. I want to believe.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Singing in the Rain

As utusanlfc said, the Reds love to do it the hard way. Always.
Conceded silly goals along the way but finally collect another 3 points.

As if by design, 3 tackles on Alonso, 3 red cards and 3 wins.

Liverpool's win today recorded many first. Riera scored his first goal, Kuyt managed to score in 3 consecutive matches also for the first time in his Liverpool career.

Thought defense was poor today. Even the normally dependable Carra was run ragged by Zaki. Agger, responsible for the 1st Wigan goal, made amend with that amazing run and cross for Kuyt's opener. How we missed Skrtel!!

With Chelsea routed Boro 5-0 earlier, it's do or die. Had we lost today, it could be disastrous with next week's visit to the Bridge.
We created many chances but made as many mistakes at the back. Living on the on the edge with Dossena looking shaky at times trying to halt Valencia's run on the right.
Likewise, Pennant was on song and roasted Figueroa left, right and center and fittingly it was him who set up Kuyt's winner.

What encouraging was how Benitez withdrew both fullbacks and sent in front players in search of the winner. That was bold. Amazing.

Sadly, Keane is still searching for his 1st EPL goal. Maybe he has taken Kuyt's mantle???
Maybe when Torres is back, pair him with Kuyt instead and start with Pennant. Maybe bench warming could do the trick for Keane. Who knows, kinda like sabbatical.

For now hats off to Kuyt, he has earned his right to sing in the rain.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Hell-key Return?

What a timing?
On the eve of tonight's do or die match with Wigan, stories are abound that the Reds are courting one time Anfield supporting cast, Emile Heskey to shore up its attack most probably during January transfer window.

Me, kinda like flabbergasted. Heskey? They must be kidding.
We already have a 'goal shy' striker in Kuyt, another one?

This tall, dark not so handsome guy to provide cover for Torres? Sorry, he's well past it dude.
Maybe, it is a mind game by Steve Bruce!! Do not fall for the trap.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Eager Beaver Agger

Thought Agger played poorly when Liverpool faced Standard Liege in Belgium. That single dismal show led to him being benched by Senor Goatee till now with the exception of Carling Cup tie against Crewe. He did score in that match too.
Not even a single appearance even as a substitute in EPL and CL.

Remember when he was idolised season before last and last season until that freak injury?
He scored the only goal against Chelsea in that epic CL semifinal, didn't he? He was Carragher's partner, he was steady, he was a rock until that injury.

And then came Skrtel. This lad never looked back. I like his hitman like persona. Menacing.

When the team floundered during Christmas period everyone was saying how Agger could have made a difference. How he could bring the ball out out of defence. And a host of other possibilities. We missed Agger, said the romantics.

Suddenly, Agger is missing from our radar. Skrtel and Carra made the position their own, not without merits though. Together, they were fantastic duo.

My immediate thought when Skrtel was stretchered off was kinda like....who's coming to replace him? Agger or dear ol' Hyppia.

As if as an answer to Rafa, Agger scored in midweek for Denmark.
Yes, he has a sweet left peg and a tremendous header too. Useful in set pieces as does Hyppia.
Carra is like a Table Mountain, solid but never a goalscorer. He only manages 1 in every 100 games.
Hyppia's ratio is the best amongst them but he's getting old. Ballack was a second too quick for him last season resulting in a Lampard's penalty that condemned us in that fateful CL semis.

On current form, Carra is a sure pick. Who to partner him against not so bad Wigan? Mind they have a resurgent Heskey and a very mobile Amr Zaki spearheading their attack.
Agger or Hyppia? Rafa has all the answer.

My pick, one Eager Beaver Agger.

Reds Reunion Part 2

It's Vicente Calderon after all.

While Torres is granted his wish to be reunited with his former teammates, sadly he'll be there as an active spectator only. What a shame!

The Reds Reunion film will be short of a leading character. I was imagining a scene when Torres scores a goal and not celebrating it as mark of respect. How poignant! Classic moment.

Now, it'll be just dreams. Millions of people will be robbed of a possible classic moment by a thing called hamstring.

Reds Crocked

I hate international breaks!
Seems Liverpool are jinxed when it comes to international weeks. Now, Torres and Babel are injured after turning out for Spain and Holland respectively.

Torres has recaptured his old form after a slow start and now he's injured again! Maybe 10 days or so.
He'll miss Wigan, Tico, Chelski and maybe Pompey too. 4 hard matches and Liverpool have to rely on Keane, Kuyt and possibly Ngog for goals. Hardly a prospect, I'd say.

Sure, Liverpool beat MU the other day without Torres and Gerrard. That could be a one off.
One has to remember, evidently whenever Torres plays he brings out the best from the other strikers. His assists, his runs and importantly his goals and now he's gone.

Apart from Christmas' fixtures, these 3 EPL games are so near to each other. Lose any and you'll find the losing side playing catch up.
I'm keeping my fingers crossed that finally Keane and Kuyt will step up to the plate.

Another Stevie G heroics maybe?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Reds Reunion Part 1


It will not be at the Calderon. Tico been handed 2 match stadium ban for crowd trouble during OM match. Their coach too.

Vicente Calderon Oct 23, 2.45 a.m.(M'sia)

Torres will be back at his old stomping ground while Luis Garcia and Florent Sinama-Pongolle will be reunited with former teammates when Liverpool take on Atletico Madrid in Champions League fixture.

I think it will be weird. Torres was Atletico's youngest captain while King Luis will always be remembered for that 'ghost goal' against Chelsea. I'm sure, that goal will be debated until kingdom comes, similar to Geoff Hurst's goal-line bouncer. Pongolle had limited time at Anfield but nevertheless can count the experience as enriching as he is now flourishing in La Liga.

But they're professionals. Friendship counts for nothing in football.

They know what at stake. Top of the table clash to decide group champion. Massive.
Pretty sure that this 2 will proceed to the next round at the expense of OM and PSV.
Atletico have yet to visit Marseille, Liverpool won the clash 2-1 earlier and OM are pretty tough at their own den, Stade Velodrome.

Reunion aside, this encounter should make an interesting watch.

Bumbling Bramble

What is it with Titus Bramble?
He scores an own goal with Newcastle and Wigan, beautifully too, season in season out. He is so error prone that he was dumped by Newcastle together with his partner in crime, Jean Alain Boumsong.
He was and is condemned by many pundits as bumbling, a clown of sorts.

Yet, what's mind boggling is whenever he plays against Liverpool, this bloke is transformed into a Franz Beckenbauer. Calm and collected. He even scored against Liverpool last year at Anfield, at the right end that is.
He rarely puts a foot wrong in those games, whether at JJB or Anfield.

Will he continues the mean streak come Saturday?
Hope he's not, for Liverpool need to win to catch up with Chelsea.
Whoa..this is massive given the current international breaks. A win will put the Reds in good stead ahead of Atletico and Chelsea encounter later on.

No possible explanation but maybe he touched that famous 'This is Anfield' sign for some special powers? Talking about divine intervention.

Ballon D'or

In recent times, fellow Liverpudlian Michael Owen and Steven Gerrard have won Ballon D'or, the accolade for European Footballer of the Year. Gerrard won it for his heroics in leading the Reds to pip AC Milan on penalties, having been down 0-3 at the break in Champions League Final 2005, now famously dubbed as the Miracle of Istanbul.
Owen, now with Newcastle topped the poll due to Liverpool's Cup treble in 2001 and also partly to his hat tricks for England against Germany in Munich (WCQ 2002).

Top players for 2007/08?
The usual suspects are Argies' Lionel Messi, MU No 7 Ronaldo and our own Fernando Torres (pic).

  1. Messi won nothing with Barcelona while grabbing gold in Beijing Olympics with Argentina.
  2. Ronaldo won EPL and CL with MU. Nothing with Portugal internationally.
  3. Torres won nothing with Liverpool domestically but won Euro 2008 with Spain, scoring the solitary goal in the final against Ballack's Germany.
So who would win Ballon D'or?

I'm rooting for Torres, not just because he is a Reds but the importance of that solo goal that led Spain to it's first title since 1964.
That is a sure 'Tan Sri' in Malaysia given its importance. Hey...Shah Rukh Khan was bestowed a Datuk for filming a 2-3 minutes shot in Malacca. Not sure he can pronounces it correctly.

Messi's Olympic gold is diluted as Olympics football is confined as U-23 tournament while Ronaldo is nothing outside Manchester.

It would be a disaster of sorts if Torres is denied victory. The stats speak for itself.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Riera Recall

Yup, latest news. Albert Riera, our left flanker was recalled to don Spanish colours for the upcoming WCQ. He replaces Diego Capel who's injured.
Riera, bought from Espanyol is the fifth member of the now famous Liverpool's Spanish quintet. Other members are Reina, Alonso, Arbeloa and Torres.
Guess, playing for Liverpool has its merit. You tend to be monitored more by the selection panel.

However, Riera will not be out of place. He's been there before. His Liverpool career so far had been solid, not spectacular. Though yet to score, he gave the team extra dimension over left hand side, combining well with Dossena or Aurelio. I'd like to see more crosses from the byline like those in Man C game. Too bad, those were met by Kuyt. What a pity!!!

Malaysia also had a famous singing quintet many years ago, The Quinary M. Anyone remembers them?

Monday, October 6, 2008


Never change a winning side. It's an old adage. Rafa didn't heed the warning and almost pay a heavy price.

Last night, he omitted Robbie Keane and put Mascherano in a 4-5-1 formation. That to me, stifled Alonso's creativity and the team suffers initially. Gerrard was largely anonymous in that link man role. Masch wasn't bad but somehow the team lacks balance in that formation. There was a gap between midfield and the strikers and City exploited that space time and again with Wright-Phillip as chief tormentor. City 2-nil up at the break.

A good manager he is, Rafa realised his folly and sent on Keane and Dossena. Benayoun entered the fray later. Suddenly Liverpool was transformed, Dossena was bombing forward all the time and Keane revels in what does best, a link man. City just do not know who to mark anymore. It was only the question of time and how many Liverpool will score against a ragged City defence already short of Zabaleta.

Torres just failed to connect from a Keane's center and Kuyt benefited from a similar move in the injury time.
That was how the game was won. Inspired substitutions.

Never change a winning side? Time will tell.

Torres Terror

The darling of Liverpool, Fernando Torres is back to his old usual best. That's certain.

He's now joint top scorer in BPL, a position he shared with Wigan's Amr Zaki. A consecutive brace against Everton and Man City is a testament to this notion. Only bad luck and some questionable decisions from the men in black prevented him from grabbing a deserved hat tricks in both games.

He's back with a vengeance following summer exploits with Spain in Euro 2008.He's now terrorising opposing defenders with streak of clinical finishes, guile and importantly grit. You floor him, he'll get up and hellbent on putting one over them. Ruthless.

Spot any difference with Torres of old?
Yes, last season he hardly scores in away matches but this term all 5 goals had been notched on the travel, away from Anfield. Where he was largely subdued in away matches last term, he's now street smart, a saviour when the chips are down.

He's a willing learner, a fast one at that. Life is different in UK, chilly weather and incessant rain et al but did it matter to him? Nah...and that what is a legend in the making is all about.
A determined, focused, single minded assassin.

When will he open his Anfield account then?

Spirit of Istanbul

I'm still trying to catch a, what a game it was. I've told ya that this isn't a game for the faint heart. Both teams finished with 10 men. Zabaleta was red carded while Skrtel was carried off injured. It looks bad. Watch out for news on his injury update.

Liverpool won again, it's 3 on the trot now, this time at the expense of City rich boys.
It's Istanbul spirit reawakened, down 2-nil at the break, Liverpool blasted 3 goals in the 2nd half to destroy City's spirit.

It was a game of 2 halves really. Liverpool's main actors Gerrard and Torres were largely missing in the first half but it Torres who sparked the comeback by netting 2 clinical goals before Kuyt sidefooted a loose ball high into the net. He couldn't have missed that chance, could he?

It could have been more. Kuyt missed an open goal early on while Torres was denied a hattrick by some peculiar bad finishing. Shocking. Thought that Keane's cross was little bit too heavy for him.

My MOTM? Hands down, it'll be Torres again. 2 goals and he had a hand in Kuyt's winning goal.It was his sweet strike that was deflected unto the Dutchman path for the clincher.

The Reds were resilient, they've now got character. That swagger of a champion.
Surely now, the charge towards the long awaited title cannot be dismissed anymore.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

City Slickers Part 2

Most renowned pundits are predicting a Liverpool win tomorrow.

Of course, Liverpool's legions of fan worldwide will readily concur. Overconfident? No, the current form will testify to the fact that Liverpool are on a roll and many teams will find it difficult to stop the juggernaut, Man C included.

Nothing fancy, nothing spectacular but rather solid performances all over the pitch thus far in BPL and Europe. What possible scenario to hinder a hattrick of wins tomorrow?
Man City trampled other lightweights but hid under the carpet when the big boys came to town.
Their attacking prowess was only evidenced in those games, when the visiting teams came to defend. But Liverpool? Sure, they cannot expect the Reds to defend, can they? That's absurd. It will be suicidal if not stupid to even think that will happen. No way Jose!

What mouthwatering prospect if you can have Masch vs Robinho as breakfast, Jo vs Carra as lunch, Gerrard vs Elano as tea and Torres vs Richards as dinner. Wow..that's mouthful, all in a good Kompany.

And don't forget Riera (pic)! He's eager, I suspect to prove a point or two against Man City for whom he appeared for a few seasons ago.
Many soccer gurus are still doubtful about Liverpool's title credentials but a win against City will go a very, very long way to dispel those lingering doubts.

So there you are, it's not just a win, it's title aspiration on the line too.

So, go on Liverpool! Prove'em wrong once and for all.

Friday, October 3, 2008

City Slickers Part 1

Do not read much into the title, that should be City Slackers instead.

Ahead of Sunday's encounter, those City boys have started the mind games by milling rumors that Steven Gerrard will join them in the future. What? making me less. Spin doctors at work.

Sure, they're richer than most clubs but they ain't getting their hands on good player, Gerrard included. Who wants to play Man City? They've got no traditions, no class and largely unknown in the world except for the borders of city of Manchester. Robinho is a one off, more of vendetta towards Real Madrid really.
They can be categorised similar to QPR, currently owned by speed kings Briatore and Ecclestone as rich clubs but no followers.

Breaking into the top 4? More of a wild dreams than a distant reality.
They whacked half a dozen past David James the other day but failed miserably against Chelsea. UEFA Cup outings so far have not convinced the critics either....and some Championship club not worth mentioning dumped them out of Carling Cup. What gives?

Would they do well against the Reds this Sunday? Do they have the players?
On current form, Liverpool will be the favorite to continue the charge towards BPL title...can't foresee Wright-Philips and Robinho to run rings around Skrtel, Carra and maybe Mascherano, risking a battered and bruised shins, legs, ankle and what not.

This ain't a battle for the faint hearted. No country for old men like Hamann and Dunne either. Liverpool will eventually put where they belong, the obscurity of mid table.

Last year they got lucky, escaping with a draw although Liverpool pummelled them the entire match. They've now got a South American or rather Brazil flavor with Jo and Robinho joining Elano in their ranks. Cause for concern? Nah...those boys only sparkled against lightweight. Chelsea taught them a costly lesson and so will Liverpool.

I reckon Robbie Keane will break his BPL duck on Sunday. Maybe Kuyt too...

Thursday, October 2, 2008

101 Dalmatians

Steven Gerrard 100 not out, Robbie Keane 1, breaking his duck, a huge monkey off his back.

Even Francis Ford-Coppola couldn't have written a better script for what transpired at Anfield last night.

PSV were no match for Liverpool, the Reds scored with their first real attack. Corner, SG, Torres, rebound, Kuyt, Issaksson, goal. That killed the contest.

And then, the stage is set for Keane. Torres provided the cross and a nice finish from Keane at the bottom right corner. The famous cartwheel celebrations was seen for the first time at Anfield and sure many will follow.

Torres was involved in all 3 goals. He was fouled and the ensuing freekick was Gerrard's 100th goal for Liverpool in front of the Kops. Perfect.

Liverpool could have scored more, Torres and Lucas late on was denied either by bad luck or some last ditch defending. Nevertheless, it was another solid performance from Liverpool.
2 games, 6 maximum points.

A perfect Hari Raya gift. Next, the Great Pretender, Man City away at City of Manchester Stadium on Sunday. A Manchester double?